Thursday, June 22, 2006

Now this was one real cool dude.....

It's hard seeing the people you've looked up to and loved to watch entertain us pass on. A few months back it was Gary Bautista of the Society of Seven in his early 50s and now Dick Jensen at age 61. We're all born with just so much grains of sand in our sun dials and the grains of sand just don't stop flowing. Perhaps it can be summed up best in these short words. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is promised to noone.....all we really have is today. Dick Jensen left us with some wonderful memories, and in this man we see a man who used his giftings to it's fullest. We're gonna miss you Dick Jensen, you were one real cool dude.

This photo shows local entertainers, from left, Jack and Cha Thompson, Don Ho and Dick Jensen.

Dynamic talent made performer a 'Giant'
The singer and dancer was best known as a showroom star throughout his career. The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts selected Jensen as one of this year's five recipients of the HARA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Vol. 11, Issue 173 - Thursday, June 22, 2006


By John Berger

DICK JENSEN, billed as "The Giant" and known to close friends as "Slugger," died yesterday in Kaiser Medical Center after a lengthy battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 64.

Jensen was best known throughout his career as a dynamic showroom performer, a cross perhaps between Sammy Davis Jr. and James Brown.

The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts selected him as one of this year's five recipients of the HARA Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the local record industry.

Jensen was unable to attend the Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony in March, but a video clip of one of his early performances on the "Ed Sullivan Show" made it clear that his show business moniker, "The Giant," was an apt description of his talent as a vocalist, song stylist and dancer.

Augie Rey, a longtime friend of Jensen's and a fellow entertainer, and several members of the family were present when Jensen died. Rey said Jensen did not appear to be in any pain during his final hours.

"It looked like he was comfortable," Rey said late yesterday. "He was ready to go. He had told us (earlier) of visions he had already had. He was so ready to go."

Tom Moffatt, who had known Jensen throughout his career, described him recently as "the best dancer to ever come out of Hawaii. He was doing the moonwalk before Michael Jackson was doing it."

Born Richard Hiram Jensen, Dick Jensen became a powerful presence in the local teen music scene using the stage name Lance Curtis before moving to the mainland and establishing himself as a top up-and-coming showroom headliner on the national entertainment scene.

His potential as a national mainstream recording artist resulted in a contract with Philadelphia International Records, one of the top soul-music labels of the early 1970s. Jensen thus became part of an entertainment roster that included the O'Jays, Billy Paul, the Three Degrees, the Intruders and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

Jensen was one of the few Hawaii entertainers of any genre to be signed by a national record label during the second half of the 20th century; his self-titled album for Philadelphia International, and a single, "Going Up on the Mountain" with "Three Cheers for Love" on the flip side, are rarities today.

Jensen returned to Honolulu in the mid-1970s and quickly re-established himself as a local showroom star with engagements at the Oceania Floating Restaurant and the Hula Hut. Jensen's signature number, a fanciful comic story about the Lone Ranger and Tonto in which Jensen single-handedly created all the voices and sound effects, was always a highlight, and every bit as impressive as his singing, dancing and overall showmanship.

Jensen also recorded a single for Moffatt's Bluewater label, "Honolulu Girls" with "On the Beach" on the flip side, and recorded and released an album, "The Writer," on his own label. Jensen was also one of the featured acts in an early local oldies concert at Blaisdell Center Arena.

Jensen's career took an unexpected turn in 1983 when he was arrested, along with his musical director and several others, on drug distribution charges. He pleaded guilty to a cocaine charge and received five years' probation.

Jensen subsequently dedicated his life and musical talents to Christian ministry. He returned to Waikiki in 1993 as a member of an all-star show -- "Hawaii's Very Best" -- with Nephi Hannemann, Loyal Garner, Iva Kinimaka and Melveen Leed. The show was a hit, and Jensen's return to the public stage was welcomed by many who remembered his old-time stage persona, but he eventually decided to concentrate entirely on his Christian ministry.

Survivors include wife Toni; son Brandon; daughters Renee Jensen Oliveira, Jennifer, Summer and Niki; father Edwin Jensen; brothers Hans, Champ, Flash and Rocky; and sister Rose Leialoha Lozano.

Funeral arrangements, and plans for a "Tribute to 'The Giant' -- Dick Jensen" memorial show, are pending.


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin --
Inside | Jun. 22

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Now this is cool......

One of the coolest things is the new talent that constantly keeps popping up. One of the hardest things to do on a full-time basis is being a musician and most end up doing the music thing as a sidelight while holding down one of them so-called real jobs. Here's a cool story of one of Hawaii's new talent. Sounds like she's got her act together here, pounding the pavement to get "name recognition" and also not forgetting the proverbial saying, "don't quit your day job". Cool story. Way to go Jomel!!!

Vol. 11, Issue 171 - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jomel Sumira, a University of Texas student who hopes to become a pediatrician, is a part-time musician who will be performing at various locations on Oahu while she is home for the summer.

Songs of summer
Jomel Sumira uses her breaks from college to nurture her passion for music
By Jacquelyn Carberry

EVERY SCHOOL has one -- a student set apart from the pack by an ability to handle academics with determination, and social aspects with grace. Moanalua High School 2005 graduate Jomel Sumira would fall into such a category.

It would be safe to call her a go-to girl: voted class president in her freshman and sophomore years, an Outstanding Students of America finalist (2004), a talent winner for Hawaii's Junior Miss scholarship competition (2004), Menehune of the Year (2005), and there's more. Those outside the circle of high school might remember Sumira from Roy Sakuma's girl group Joy, a steady presence during her Moanalua life.

Sumira, 19, now attends the University of Texas in Austin, with plans to become a pediatrician. But she's chosen an interesting path to her goal: She is a part-time musician during her summer at home, spending mornings at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and afternoons and weekends giving concerts at malls and fairs in support of her debut CD, "One Magic Moment."

All in a day's work, shrugged Sumira.

"I just want a chance to do it all," she said, stealing a glance at a folded piece of paper that lists past accomplishments.

She wins praise from the owner of Roy Sakuma's Ukulele Studio himself. "She's really very talented," said Sakuma. "Jomel's got a great attitude and is always smiling."

SUMIRA has wrapped up her freshman year in Texas and is writing music for her second solo CD, though few of her Austin friends know of her moonlighting as a musician. Sumira's hit the occasional open mike in Austin but has saved real performing for summertime.

She is marketing her music the old-fashioned way, with the help of two Moanalua High School teachers. In her two summers since graduation, she has sung at about 50 free concerts, with many of her fans being children, the same audience she hopes to serve as a doctor one day. Every penny she earns is being pocketed for her education -- so far about $6,000 -- but the greater reward is the chance to sing in front of crowds once again.

"All this is going to my dream," she said. "It's hard to believe it's only been a year. There's been a million performances here and there. I've accomplished one of my goals."

BY AGE 8, Sumira was enrolled in voice and ukulele lessons; by age 12 it was piano and violin lessons; and then there was the group work with Joy, the Moanalua High School orchestra program and all the stages in between. She sang as a soloist at New York's Carnegie Hall when Moanalua's Symphony Orchestra performed on that renowned stage last year.

But it was high school biology teacher Duane Suyama who suggested she continue her interest in music as a solo musician. Lead singer and guitarist for the band Brentwood, Suyama once considered being a musician full time before turning his interest to teaching.

Suyama produced "One Magic Moment" and contributed an estimated $26,000 for recording, marketing and other additional fees.

Suyama learned of Sumira's vocal prowess through her classmates.

"I was told, 'You have to hear her sing,'" said Suyama with a shake of his head. "I have to say, she's really good. She's got a very natural style."

The duo worked together on "One Magic Moment" during Sumira's senior year, releasing the album last May.

Suyama compares his former student to Michelle Branch, whom Sumira covers on her CD. Sumira also penned a handful of songs, such as "If Only," written in the eighth grade, and the title track, a tune she wrote for her sophomore banquet.

"I want her to have as much creative input as possible. Whatever profit there is" -- Suyama shrugged -- "it's just for fun. I started like Jomel, entering contests."

"Fun" includes carting cases of CDs to local record stores. Suyama gets help with marketing from his girlfriend, Candace Chun, a health occupation teacher, also at Moanalua High School.

SUMIRA HAS no plans to make music her permanent career. "I'm going to be the singing pediatrician. I just want to share with the community and talk to kids on their level and show them they can do whatever their hearts desire."

Suyama feel strongly that Sumira has a solid future and will likely give back to the community once she graduates from medical school. "There's all the reasons for helping her," said Suyama. "She donates a lot of her time to charity. It's a joy to help her."

Jomel Sumira's summer performance schedule:
Saturday: 11:30-11:50 a.m., Meadow Gold Healthy Baby Contest, Ala Moana CenterStage; 4 to 5 p.m., Taste of Honolulu, Honolulu Civic Center Grounds
July 1: 11:30-11:50 a.m., Meadow Gold Healthy Baby Contest, Pearlridge Center Uptown
July 2: 1 to 1:45 p.m., Ward Warehouse
July 3: 6 to 6:45 p.m., Aloha Tower Marketplace
July 8: Noon to 1 p.m., Windward Mall Centerstage
July 15: 1:45 p.m. Sassy and G Magazine's Back-to-School event, Pearlridge Center Uptown
July 16: Noon to 1 p.m., Pearlridge Uptown
July 16: 1:45 p.m., Sassy and G Magazine's Back-to-School event, Macy's Ala Moana
July 16: 3 p.m., Sunday Music Jam, Ward Warehouse
July 19: 5:45 to 6 p.m., Honolulu Zoo's "Wildest Show in Town"
July 22: 4 to 4:45 p.m., Ala Moana CenterStage
July 23: 5 to 5:45 p.m., Hawaii State Farm Fair, Kapolei
Aug. 6: 1 to 1:45 p.m., Na Mele Nei concert series, Ward Warehouse
Aug., 12: Noon to 1 p.m., Kahala Mall Centerstage
Aug. 19: Noon to 12:45 p.m. Ala Moana Centerstage
Aug. 20: 1 to 3 p.m., Sunday Music Jam, Ward Warehouse
Also: Sumira is available for private functions, school assemblies and charitable events. Contact or call 366-1355.

"One Magic Moment" sells for $12 to $15 and is available at Borders Ward Centre, Planet Fun at Kunia Shopping Center, Native Books Na Mea Hawaii at Ward Warehouse, Sam Goody locations, Harry's Music Store in Kaimuki, Jelly's in Pearl Kai Shopping Center, Hungry Ear Records & Tapes at 418 Kuulei Road and through


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin --
Inside | Jun. 20

Friday, June 16, 2006

A little old but still real cool....

Cool reading here. So many names, so many cool musicians. As Hemingway and I talked one day, "everyones got a story".

Friday, May 30, 2003

Members of Tino & the Rhythm Klub are, from left,
Adney Atabay, Elmo Custodia, Heminway Jasmin,
Tino Ibach, Lucky Salvador, Les Fernandez
and Ricky Ricardo.

Hemingway Jasmin, third from the left, with the group Tino & the Rhythm Klub, will be performing at "Disco Fever" tonight.

Boogie night
You can once again shake your
groove thang at 'Disco Fever'

john berger |

'Disco Fever'

Starring Yvonne Elliman and the J. Michael Band

Where: Sheraton-Waikiki Hawaii Ballroom

When: 8 p.m. today

Tickets: $20 to $45 advance (available at all TicketMaster outlets), $30 to $55 at the door

Charge by phone: 877-750-4600

Back around the time Audy Kimura was winning all those Hoku awards, he always got a laugh when he recalled that he received barely-passing grades in one of his intermediate school music classes. Hemingway Jasmin, who's been a professional musician for "around 30 years," can relate.

"I wanted to play music (in high school), but all the seats in band were taken, so I ended up not playing," Jasmin recalled while chilling out on Memorial Day. Iced out at school, Jasmin turned to his brother, who taught him three chords on guitar. That was enough to get him into a band with some friends. From that point on, he quickly taught himself to keep up.

Jasmin will be playing with two groups tonight when "Disco Fever" kicks into high gear at the Sheraton-Waikiki -- as a member of Tino & the Rhythm Klub and as one of the two original members of Phase VII (along with Eric Kutson) in a pickup band that will be using that name.

The Mendoza family -- who performed as the Nomads throughout the disco era and became Aura in the early '80s -- will be performing intact. Musicians representing two other old-time groups, Asian Blend and Power Point, will be joined by other younger "oldies" acts.

Yvonne Elliman, whose biggest hit during that time was "If I Can't Have You," will headline tonight's show with backing from the J. Michael Band.

(There's been no word if any of Hawaii's old-time disco deejays -- T.J. "Da DJ" Johnson, Travis "Chocolate Chicken" Davis, Gary "VHP" Callicott, Mike "LD" Suber, Ryan "Freak Night" Nevis, "Waltzing Rick" Wyatt or Rollo "Mahalo" Mickle, to name a few -- will be adding their magic to this event.)

JASMIN'S history in the local music scene has been a long one. He was a member of the MoppTopps, one of the biggest local top-40 bands of the '60s, and the first band he was in "that had a name." Jasmin was one of the band's later members -- he describes joining "the third generation" of MoppTopps that had originally included Jesse Morgan on lead vocals, Mike Payton on drums and Ron Payton on bass. Guitarist Bernard DeSeo, an early legend in local rock circles, "came later" and was still there along with Kata Maduli and Bert De Jesus when Jasmin joined. That "third generation" lineup would evolve into the Sunshine Express with John Ogen on vocals (Ogen would become the original lead vocalist of the Fabulous Krush).

Jasmin, Maduli and De Jesus were also in another band, Exotic Sounds, and Jasmin was still playing guitar when the keyboard player joined the Air Force and left his equipment with the band. Jasmin volunteered to change instruments, taught himself how to play and has been on keyboards ever since. Perhaps the best proof of his competence is the fact that he spent almost a decade working with Al Harrington and then worked a shorter stint backing Don Ho.

By that time he'd honed his skills playing with an impressive list of cover bands -- names from the past like Beowulf, Breaking Point, Phase VII, the Newtown Band and 808 (the original one, with Ginai on vocals).

The early '70s were the heyday of the local cover bands that worked full-time gigs in clubs like the Tiki, Mike's Barefoot Bar, the Hula Hut, the Blue Goose, the Point After, Captain Nemo's, the Hawaiian Hut, the Foxy Lady Too and Duke Kahanamoku's. Younger bands paid their dues and got experience working the headliners' infrequent off nights until a full-time slot opened up.

The advent of the disco deejay in the mid-'70s meant the end of regular work for the cover bands. The Nomads and a few other bands survived. The Krush, struggling as an off-night band, became the Fabulous Krush and made a successful transition into becoming Hawaii's best young show band. As for the rest of the bands, most of them just faded away.

JASMIN was one of the survivors. Yemun Chung, then-manager of the Fabulous Krush, recruited Jasmin to play keyboards for a would-be show band he dubbed Phase VII, and although Phase VII never succeeded in joining the Krush, the Society of Seven and the Aliis as top Waikiki show bands, the group had a good run before disbanding.

Jasmin left long before the band burned out.

"Disco was real big and live music was ending, and I had to do something to survive," Jasmin says. He was Al Harrington's musical director for a while but says he gladly relinquished the spot to showroom veteran Johnny Todd and thereafter enjoyed the less stressful position of just being one of the guys in the band. Harrington eventually retired, and Jasmin accepted an invitation to be part of a Krush reunion band. He worked with the Krush, backing Don Ho at the Polynesian Palace, and became part of Ho's new band when the local icon moved to the Waikiki Beachcomber.

Considering all this, it's not been bad for a guy who couldn't even get a spot in the high school band.

Jasmin, in the future, hopes to write and record original Christian music with some similarly minded friends. But in the meantime he cautiously describes himself as "lucky" thus far.

"I survived disco (by) going into shows, and now (karaoke). I've gotten a little bit of (music) theory, but most of it comes from experience. I learned to read chord charts working with Al Harrington and Don, and I've learned from my peers. Whatever I'm playing, I want to learn (more about it)," he said.

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